Category Archives: Top # Lists

Marge’s Outstanding Disney Achievement Awards

 

So, what’s the best and worst of Disney, you ask?

…You didn’t? Oh…

…Well, here you go anyway!

 

Overall Film Quality:

 

Worst of the Worst Award – Chicken Little

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Disney’s first solo venture into the world of CG is, shockingly, their worst. Only Home on the Range comes close to the sheer miasma of badness that this stinker emits.

The plot is confused (do we focus on the aliens or the baseball?), the characters are one-note and/or unlikable (I would happily fry Buck Cluck up, KFC style); and the animation is somewhere between “meh” and hideous.

Take my advice. Just don’t. Also, put this down for Worst Humor Award and Worst Father Award too.

 

Most Artful AwardFantasia

 

It’s like going to an orchestra concert and letting your mind wander and create stories to the music that you hear. It is a series of stories and scenes illustrated creatively, accompanying famous classical pieces. I’d give it praise for introducing kids to this kind of music by itself, but it also went and gave us the predecessor to surround sound.

Case closed.

 

Most Beautiful Award (2-D)The Little Mermaid

This movie started the Disney Renaissance; it reminded everyone of the artistic potential of 2-D animation. It looks absolutely amazing.

 

Most Beautiful Award (3-D) Frozen

No contest.

 

Best Story AwardBeauty and the Beast

Can you feel the love tonight!
Can you feel the love tonight!

Not only did Disney successfully adapt this fairytale, they improved it.

A better reason for the Beast to get pissy with Belle’s father (the catalyst to the plot), a better reason for the Beast to be protective of his rose(s) (his last hope for humanity that is wilting more everyday), better stakes (loss of humanity, loss of life at least three times), a damn good villain (who probably gave Hans from Frozen some pointers), and it took some time (which the clever writers never specify) for an actual romance/friendship to develop.

 

Best Humor AwardPeter Pan

Say what you want about the Genie or Kronk or anyone else. Complain about the racist indians. Okay. Are we good now?

Because this movie has the BEST slapstick ever. Any scene with Hook, Smee, and/or the crocodile kills me every time. Peter’s not that bad either; we get some funny fight scenes out of him.

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Worst Music Award  – Home on the Range

 

I hate this movie. Also…Alan Menken…why?

 

Best Musicals AwardThe Little Mermaid

This was another tough one, but I think that this film has the (consistently) best songs in any Disney movie. They are all solid, memorable hits, except for maybe the “Daughters of Triton” song from the beginning.

Plus, “Part of Your World” was the “Let It Go” of the 90’s.

 

Best Score Award – The Hunchback of Notre Dame

Here is just a sample:

 

It is epic, awesome, and fitting (latin choruses in a movie starring a gorgeous Catholic church).

 

Best Straightforward Adaptation AwardSnow White and the Seven Dwarves

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Probably the most faithful. Fitting, as it was Disney’s first venture into feature-length films.

 

Most “Child-Friendly” Elements Award Pinocchio

For those who think Hunchback of Notre Dame is Disney’s darkest film…

I have seen this movie maybe 3 times in my life…That’s more than enough for me. It’s actually really unpleasant.

First, consider this:

 

Second, these:

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Stromboli

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Enjoy seeing these in your nightmares, kiddies!

 

Most Creative Animation Award – Alice in Wonderland

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In contrast to the vastly inferior live-action version, animated Alice’s world is very dark and minimalist at times. It feels as though anything could appear out of the shadows next, and over the course of the story, anything does. It’s a clever choice, and boy does it bring out the colors of everyone and everything else.

Take a note, overstuffed CGI fail-fest: less is more.

 

Character-Based:

 

Worst Villain Award – Edgar, The Artistocats

EdgarBalthazar

 

Least competent, least noteworthy, and least entertaining to watch. He has his moments, but for the most part, I just don’t care. The only thing more idiotic than him attempting to kill some cats because they are inheriting a fortune is that the lady is willing the fortune to her cats in the first place. Also, why would Edgar think he was going to get that money in the first place, and why would the lady even consider him? Does she not have any family? Friends? Charitable organizations that she supports?

 

Most Awesome Villain Award – Maleficent, Sleeping Beauty

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Kick-ass voice actress, amazing design, elegance, class, insanity, intimidation, power. And need we forget, self-proclaimed “Mistress of All Evil”?

As far as the “I do it because I’m evil” villains go, she is the boss.

sleepbeaut-11

 

Worst Villain Song Award – “Mother Knows Best”, Tangled

 

Except for the sinister “don’t ever ask to go outside again” line, this song is all goof and no bite. Lady Tremaine was a better controlling mother, and she didn’t even get a song.

 

Best Villain Song Award – “Poor Unfortunate Souls”, The Little Mermaid

A crazy faustian waltz filled with lies and seduction, and it ends on one hell of an awesome crescendo. It has all of “Gaston”‘s sentiment (“I’m totally not a villain. I actually a really awesome person”), mixed with undertones of “Hellfire”‘s creepy sexual overtones.

It’s only real issue is probably the lengthy dialogue throughout, but even then, it’s a great, sinister listen.

 

Best Villain Motivation Award – Judge Claude Frollo, The Hunchback of Notre Dame

God told him to do it. No, really.

Frollo is scary because there are people out there like him. He’s greedy, but repressed. When he has power, he abuses it for his own ends, but claims that it’s all for the greater good. How can that not be awesome?

Frollo's_Evil_Smile

 

Two more unrelated things of note: “Hellfire,” and Tony Jay. That is all.

 

Scariest Villain Award – The Queen, Snow White and the Seven Dwarves

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Look at it. LOOK AT IT.

Every time this woman stares into the camera, I dare you not to shiver. It’s like she knows you’re there, and once she’s offed Snow White, she’s coming for you.

Also, the “Thirsty?” scene is f%#*ed up.

The Queen pre-hagdom is pretty creepy too; her virtually frozen face, the way her eyes randomly widen and narrow while she speaks, her voice (Lucille La Verne took out her false teeth to do the Hag voice), her magic mirror slave. She’s one of the weaker villains character and motivation-wise, but her fear factor is not to be denied.

As she prepares her disguise potion, the hag’s cackle and scream of fright are particularly chilling.

 

As an honorable mention though, I’d like to point out that this guy exists:

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Disney: The most wholesome factory of night terrors since 1923. Probably fitting, since it was also founded in October.

 

Most Entertaining Villain – Rattigan, The Great Mouse Detective

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He’s voiced by Vincent Price; it’s a match made in Hell.

So what if you can tell he’s the villain from 3 miles off? He’s so gleefully evil. He prances, for Hell’s sake.

Just watch him and try not to get into his performance.

Also, watch the climax to see him become truly terrifying.

 

Best Villain Laugh Award – The Headless Horseman, The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad

This one was a three-way tie between Maleficent, Ursula, and good ole’ headless, but we’re not going for most iconic laugh here. As awesome as the first two are, they can’t match the simultaneous levels of crap-your-pants fright, maniacal glee, and even hilarity that comes from this guy.

 

Best Villain Lair – Bald Mountain, Fantasia

Hmmm, what’s an awesome lair for a villain? Inside a dead elephant, or sea monster? A fortress on top of a mountain?

How about the mountain itself, where Hell’s minions come out and party with you?

 

Hell yes.

 

Best Villain Sidekick – Kronk, The Emperor’s New Groove

Kronk-disneyscreencaps.com-1576

 

I love LeFou, don’t get me wrong, but Kronk is funnier and plays off his villain, Yzma, much more comedically. That is what elevates him from potentially annoying to lovable and hilarious; he’s coupled with a jaded, smart sourpuss.

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Haha. Puns.

 

Scariest Non-Villain Award – The Beast, Beauty and the Beast

 

Finally A Non-Evil Queen Award – Elsa, Frozen

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Because responsibility is not your enemy, little girls. You can rock a gorgeous dress AND rule a kingdom, without having to marry and let your man do it for you.

 

Worst Princess Award – Snow White, from where do you think?

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Snow White ties with Aurora and Pocahontas for “Least Personality,” but Aurora isn’t ear-bleedingly obnoxious to listen to, and Pocahontas does more stuff plot-wise and is outdoorsy. This chick looks like she belongs on “Toddlers and Tiaras;” she wears way too much makeup and makes weird faces half of the time, but she acts like she’s five years old. I think she was coasting off of the popularity of Betty Boop.

It’s frustrating how much nothing she does, how stupidly naive she is.

 

Best Princess Award – Elsa, Frozen

Yes, her again. It counts because she was a princess til about the 1/4th point of the movie.

Don’t get me wrong. Belle will always have a special place in my heart, as will Mulan and Merida. Anna is pretty cool too (see what I did there?). But here’s the thing: Elsa has powers. Not just queen powers, but legit ICE MAGIC powers.

 

Worst Leading Man Award – Hercules, from guess where?

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I’ve got nothing really against the guy. He’s nice enough, but he’s kind of boring. Also, his motivations are kind of selfish.

 

If you’re wondering why Philip or the two other “Prince Charmings” didn’t end up here, it’s because there was nothing to work off of there. They do nothing (aside from Philip, who is awesome despite his blandness), and have no character traits to speak of.

 

Best Leading Man Award – Kristoff, Frozen

Kristoff_Sven

 

Frozen has a bit of an unfair advantage; it’s the most recent animated film, and probably the most conscious of previous Disney “flaws”. But still, it must be counted.

Kristen may not have an epic fight with a dragon or a giant octopus-woman under his belt, but he’s got a lot of personality. Probably the most of all the Disney guys, aside from the Beast. He’s the closest to a guy you might actually know, but he’s never boring or standard. He’s Kristoff, the pungent reindeer king!

 

Worst Good Guy Sidekick Award – Buck, Home on the Range

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He’s obnoxious, plain and simple. He kung-fu kicks everywhere and thinks he’s too cool for school. He is a waste of thought and screen time.

 

Best Good Guy Sidekick Award – Olaf, Frozen

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I’m sorry to keep doing this to you.

Olaf could have been horribly annoying as far as sidekicks go, but he’s actually really cute and likable. Because he was a product of Anna and Elsa’s early (happy) childhood, it makes sense for him to be silly, upbeat, and naive. He also gets some really genuinely funny lines.

 

Jerk Protagonist Award – Mr. Toad, The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad

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I was tempted to go with Aladdin because he’s a compulsive liar and essentially a con man. But hey, it’s for love, so at least it’s a…good cause?

I also thought about Ichabod from the same above-mentioned movie, because he wants to marry Katrina to get her family farm and money, and he actually FANTASIZES ABOUT HER FATHER DYING. But again, the other two main characters, Brom Bones and Katrina, are just as jerky as he is, so it’s a more level playing field.

So how about a guy who destroys public property without thought, who is extremely prone to bad habits and fads?

Mr. Toad even goes to jail at one point, albeit for a crime he didn’t commit. At one point, he considers turning his life around and taking his friends more seriously (and less for granted). Does he?

Nope-timon

 

No lessons learned. No growth or change. What an asshole.

 

Sympathetic Villain Award – Elsa, Frozen

This one is cheating just a bit, but she’s mistaken for the villain by most of the rest of the cast and does inadvertently cause the dangerous predicament that the kingdom falls into.

Elsa is sort of like Frollo (repressed), but a nice person. She means well and doesn’t want to hurt anyone. She gets an awesome moment of freedom and happiness, only to realize that she still has responsibilities, and must fix the hurt that she’s caused, even though she has no idea how.

 

Backhanded Best Mother Award – “the queen”, Sleeping Beauty

Queen-Leah

 

Do you know what is worse than offing mothers? Not even giving them f&#%ing names.

And really, there is no excuse for this. You named the father Stephan; why wouldn’t you toss out anything for the queen? She actually gave birth to Aurora! Doesn’t that count for anything?

Yes, in Disney Princess Enchanted Tales, they name her Leah. That doesn’t count. None of the direct-to-video stuff counts in the grand scheme of things.

 

Best Father Award – Maurice, Beauty and the Beast

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He’s quirky, supportive, and adorably bumbling. Plus, he deserves an award for all of the crap he endures throughout the course of the movie.

Also, just because you needed to see this:

 

Best Castle Award – Sleeping Beauty

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I just love the look and feel of it. So much detail, like a tapestry…

 

Marge’s Favorite Character Award – Cheshire Cat, Alice in Wonderland

Cheshire-cat-4

 

I love his voice actor (Sterling Holloway, who also did Winnie the Pooh btw), his madness, his design, his color scheme. What is not to like about a cat with seemingly god-like powers who may or may not be out to get you?

That’s the awesome punch of Alice in Wonderland‘s characters: you never know if they’re going to snap on you at some point. Are they harmless, or…?

The intrigue there is part of his appeal.

 

And I think that is quite enough for today. Needless to say, Disney has done some good work. Let’s hope we and our families get more quality entertainment in the future.

 

*All pictures, video clips, and other media belong to Disney. None of the images or sounds belong to me.

 

 

 

 

 

Top 10 Movie Theater Pet Peeves

Movie stubs and popcorn

 

Many of us movie watchers like to go to theaters from time to time. It lets us check out films in a large, dark room with a huge screen and a killer sound system: something that only the obscenely rich could afford to have at home in this economy. Whether it be a hot new release or a classic put back in theaters, whether you’re a casual viewer or a film enthusiast, chances are that you’ll find something to enjoy about the experience.

But the fun comes with certain pitfalls that we can’t avoid; outside elements that range from mildly annoying to torturous, and most if not all of them beyond our control. Why does it have to be this way?

How-To-Deal-With-Pet-Peeves

 

The short answer is that doing anything involving other human beings means that you forfeit pretty much any control over your environment. But even the rules put in place to be fair to everyone aren’t always followed, whether by the theater people themselves or the other people seated around you, and that’s just rude and unnecessary.

In a perfect world, you pay for something and you enjoy it.

So today, let me forgo a media review and just talk about some of the things that I – and people I’ve known – find painful and avoidable about going to see a film in theaters. Pet peeves, if you will.

Starting from least to most obnoxious:

 

(10 People Who Look at You Strangely When You Go Alone

alone-at-the-movies

I doubt this happens to most people, and not even all that often if it does, so I put it pretty low on the list.

While it can be fun to go see a new movie with a friend or group of friends, unless you are alone in the theater, you don’t interact all that much. You can talk during ads, and at the start and end of the film, but during, you are faced forward, looking at the screen. Occasionally, you might whisper to the person directly next to you, but that’s about it.

So why do some folks think of movie-going as a purely social experience?

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Introverts in particular might decide to go it alone once in a while. I certainly have. It is possible to enjoy a film and react to it with no relation to another person nearby. Sometimes it might just be because no one will go with you. They don’t have time, they’re not interested in the film or genre, they’re tired, etc. That’s fine, and it should not need to stop you.

And yet,  you might get looks or comments, mostly from total strangers, like you have no friends. You must be weird or sad or something! You’re going to see a film by yourself!

As a kid, I used to believe that you needed friends to do any big social fun things, and I would be damn near devastated when no one wanted to do what I wanted to do or weren’t available at all. When I spent some time in Tokyo studying abroad and slowly grew to discover that I disliked the company I was keeping (female classmates that weren’t friends and bickered frequently), I became a lot more comfortable doing things on my own.

It can be lonely, sure, but sometimes you have to be willing to be alone, or good opportunities will pass you by. And who knows? You may make some new friends if you’re lucky.

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It isn’t weird or unnatural or sad. It’s smart and self-sufficient. Screw anyone who tells you otherwise.

 

(9 Ads

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Movie theater companies, we need to talk.

We know how much you want us to come back to your venue. We know you’d like to try to sell us food and drinks. We also know that new stuff will be coming out soon, and you think we might like to see the next Hunger Games film…because we are about to watch The Nut Job…

Thanks for trying to help us out. Now please stop showing us over 20 minutes of ads before a film. I don’t care about half of these upcoming releases; I’m here to watch a movie. I’ll put up with this for a little bit, but after 20 minutes passes, you are seriously pushing your luck.

"Any minute now..."
“Any minute now…”

 

Also, stop with the shameless food ads over and over again. If I haven’t bought a popcorn and a large beverage by now, I’m probably not gonna, and more ads reminding me to visit the concession stand just make me want to never buy food from there again, out of pure spite.

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(8 Theaters That Overbook Showings

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Crowded theaters aren’t really that much fun. I think we’d all prefer that it just be our groups and no one else watching at that particular time, not a Sunday morning IHOP’s worth of people.

When Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows first came out in theaters, a good friend of mine and I went to go see it around New Year’s. When we got there, we were told that there were only six tickets left for the showing we wanted, and we decided to grab them. Hopefully, we’d find seats together inside.

After procuring some snacks and attempting to prevent future movie bladder, we went to our specific theater and found, to our dismay, that there were no seats left. Anywhere.

So we watched the movie sitting in the aisles, in the gap typically reserved for wheelchairs, and fidgeted nervously every time an usher went by. My friend shook her head. “They better not try to kick us out. We paid to be here.”

This is unacceptable. Going to theaters is expensive, damn it, and if you pay for a seat, you should be given an actual seat. I’m not typically a person who makes an audible, visible fuss about bad service, but this is bad service. You have a right to be angry and demand your money back.

And we weren’t the only people stuffed into the aisle that day.

The audience should not ever be allowed to violate fire and safety codes like that.  And companies should bother to actually count the number of seats vs the number of people paying for them.

 

(7 Not Allowing Outside Food and Beverages

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Not much to say about this one. It’s annoying, but I see why it’s in place. Easily circumvented if you are a girl or know a girl with a big purse, and excluding all but #10 of these annoying elements, this one is probably the one you can do the least about.

I particularly hate the overpriced candy, which is only really half full when you actually open the box. It is bull.

 

(6 People Who Throw Trash Everywhere

dirty-movie-theater

 

No cool, people.

Yes, there are people paid to clean the theater when you leave, but leftover food spilled in the aisles, down the seats, and in the crevices is rude, gross, and shows contempt for your fellow-man in more ways than one.

Imagine it like your floor being covered with germ-ridden legos, and you’re barefoot. Police your kids, if you’ve got them, and pick up after yourself.

 

(5 Forgetting/Disregarding the Guy in Front of You

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I consider this seat kicking, propping your feet up, and grabbing that seat to leverage yourself out of your own. You are not at home, so if there are other people around you, try to disturb them as little as possible in your comings and goings.

 

(4 People Who Complain About Kids

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This ties in with Pet Peeve #1, as it tends to occur in the theater, during the movie proper.

If you’re watching a family film or something specifically aimed at kids, there is nothing wrong with that. But, yeah, no $&1# there are kids here. Suck it up.

I once had a friend who complained about this frequently, at a matinée of all places.

 

You lose the right to complain just by virtue of where you are. Just have patience, or pick a time of the day where most of the little rugrats are at school if it bugs you so much.

 

(3 Misbehaving Kids

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Haha, I’m being contradicting. But hey, even with the above, there are limits.

Movies are a good way to shut your kids up for an hour…except when they don’t. Whether it’s a small group or a large group, be firm with them. Threaten to take them outside, then home if they don’t behave themselves.

And I’m not talking about being a little loud or talkative here. I mean the kids running around, screaming, throwing food and things, being wild and excessively distracting. This stuff gets less and less forgivable the further you get from a G rating.

I know it’s difficult, and hey, maybe you wanted to watch the movie too. But sometimes you have to make sacrifices to raise your kids, and one of them is to not indulge rude and bad behavior. They may not know better, but you are the adult and they are supposed to obey you. Whether they “really are good kids” is irrelevant; disrespect to you and other people is a problem. It may even fester and stick around if you don’t treat it in moments like these.

And just don’t bring babies. Ever.

 

(2 Cellphones

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Personally, I haven’t heard a lot of people with the nards to actually answer a call mid movie, but it happens apparently.

Why haven’t they stopped showing those ‘turn off your cellphone’ ads before the movies yet? Clearly because people still do it in droves.

This one will never go away.

At least in America, from the tweens and on, people need to be plugged in at all times. An hour or two without being contacted or posting on social media clearly means that you have died, and the world is moving on without you.

I once went to a dive-in movie at my college’s main pool, and I saw a girl in an inner tube staring down at her smart phone. People were splashing all around her and a movie playing on the screen, but there she was, phone barely two inches above the water. No joke.

I’d ask where to draw the line between spoiled and stupid, but in this case, there may have been no line at all.

CT  CT 070611-ENT ent-0706-texting MJW

 

 

If the theater has almost no people in it, you’re in the way back row, and you bump down the volume and brightness, you might be able to subtly check your phone during a movie. But it’s easy to tell what you’re doing, and it’s distracting. If you can’t disconnect for a bit, then what are you even doing here?

Please don’t be rude, or waste your own time and money like that.

 

(1 Talking

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Even whispering. Once the movie starts, keep it down. And whatever you do, DO NOT pick a quiet moment to share your thoughts. I can hear you as clear as day, and probably the other end of this theater can too. Sound waves travel farther than you think.

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If you must talk, keep it short, and whisper right up in the person’s ear. We’ll understand if you had to leave for a few moments and missed something. Again, unless the theater is virtually deserted (I’ve had showings like that, which is more conducive to friends joking and talking), this is distracting and rude. You could be the funniest person on the planet, and people would still hate you. We didn’t come here and pay to listen to you.

When seeing Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1 with my folks, the theater we visited was a little on the lean side, but by no means empty. All the way at the front row, there was a group of young teenage girls who giggled frequently and made gag-worthy passes at the characters on-screen.

*Representation of fan girls at the movies*
*Representation of fan girls at the movies*

 

 

In the tense scene where, having just escaped from death eaters at a wedding and then at a deli in the city, Harry, Ron, and Hermione explored the quiet, seemingly abandoned headquarters of the Order, one of the girls began shouting things like, “We love you, Daniel!” and, “Marry me, Rupert!”

A man several rows in front of us got up and whispered something to them, then went back to his seat. Everyone else cheered him on, and the girls were silent from then on. Whatever he said, I still salute that theater hero to this day.

 

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As I’ve said, this is my personal list, but I did take into account my friends, family, and colleagues’ rants when thinking about it.

What it all comes down to is people being thoughtless and disrespectful in a public space they are meant to share. And sometimes even I can do some of these, because we all have forgetful/thoughtless moments from time to time. But most of this is taught to each of us – see “common sense” – at one point or another in our lives, and just because we are grown adults who can do whatever the heck we want does not mean that all has to go out the window.

It’s impossible to think about everything and everyone 24/7, but it is possible to remember basic manners and preserve politeness so that everyone can enjoy the movie theater experience, if not the movie itself.

So don’t stress about it, but don’t brush things off thoughtlessly. Intent or not, no one wants to look like a jerk.

*All pictures, video clips, and other media belong to their respective owners. None of the images or sounds belong to me.

CftC: Top 13 Favorite Villains of All Time

Note: This is Marge’s top 13 (Arthur can do his own if he really wants to), and I’m including all media for this list. Movies, games, books, shows, etc.

The only thing I’m leaving out is music, and that’s because music doesn’t typically have heroes and villains…unless you count one-note, one-sided break-up songs.

Meh.

So, why top 13? Because:

october

 

It’s Halloween season, and I’ve got your number! Unlucky 13!

Also, you may see some antagonists on this list. The difference between antagonist and villain is that the former can be merely a force that opposes the protagonist (the main character), while the later is seen as unambiguously bad or wicked. I used “villains” in the title because it sounds better, but I’m not limiting the choices.

This is how I judge them:

  • Crazy, hammy, and/or fun to watch
  • Creepy and scary
  • Love to hate ’em
  • Complex and/or sympathetic

Enough chatter! Let’s get to it!

 

#13: Team Rocket (from Pokemon)

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Ah, Team Rocket. Was there ever a more nostalgic and lovable force of complete and total failure?

Well, maybe this one:

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But she’s a bit grating on my ears, and I didn’t watch Power Rangers for very long, so…

While I think that Jessie, James (haha, get the joke?), and Meowth lost all menace very early on in the show, they were instantly and lastingly memorable with their theme song, epic proclamation (where they state their names and cause every single episode), and subsequent defeat and blast off. With only those three aspects remaining constant, they quickly grew into the beloved, inept but determined characters we know today.

Jessie and James have big egos, but James is the more flamboyant and wimpy of the two. If they were in a relationship

*cough cough*

Jessie would probably wear the pants.

Meowth is one of the only speaking pokemon in the series. He’s a sarcastic loudmouth, ridiculing Jessie and James nearly as much as he schemes with them, but ultimately, he is loyal and cares about them very much. He wants to please their boss, Giovanni, and regain his standing in Team Rocket, having been demoted from evil villain lap cat.

Their aim is to steal rare and interesting pokemon, at first because, well, it’s their job, but later mostly to get back in Giovanni’s good graces. For some insane reason, they usually settle for trying to steal Ash’s Pikachu.

team-rocket-blasting1-o

 

 

These guys are endlessly fun to watch. They’re corny, snarky, hammy, and safe, but by God, they will get that Pikachu one day…

___shiny____pikachu_vector_by_red_aurdis-d2zhm2t

 

 

#12: Gladys Leeman (from Drop Dead Gorgeous)

gladys

 

Hyperbolic, and yet so eerily spot on, this character is what I see when I look at crazy, jerk parents who try to bask in their kids’ accomplishments. Or, similarly, berate all the self esteem out of them when they lose.

Drop Dead Gorgeous is a mockumentary (think Spinal Tap) about a succession of beauty pageants, starting off in small town Mount Rose, Minnesota. Rebecca Leeman is the richest girl around, and you can bet that her parents Gladys and Lester have bought off all of the judges to vote for their precious little princess.

But Gladys takes it a step further.

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Gladys shows us that divas never age well.

Taken from the spotlight of her own pageants perhaps a little too early, she sets out to make sure her daughter gets to state levels no matter what. She is willing to murder and sabotage anyone who gets in her way.

I love how sweet and impartial she pretends to be, playing it up for the cameras and breaking only occasionally when her husband is around. She’s punchable, but mostly enjoyably crazy and cutthroat, and we’re never really sure what means the most to her: her daughter, or the competition.

She’s more realistic than Violet’s mom in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (the movie), and yet just, if not more, cartoony.

I have no doubt that this self-proclaimed “God-fearing” woman would sell her soul for another chance at glory.

 

#11: Big Brother and the Inner Party (from 1984)

bigbrotheriswatchingyou

The basic gist of this one boils down to: overbearing government that noses its way into everyone’s business, manipulates news and changes history, watches citizens at all times, and even changes the language in order to better control people’s thoughts.

Nineteen Eighty-Four is a cautionary tale about overabundance of power; it being abused by one group jealously guarding the monopoly. Absolute power corrupts absolutely, and what better way to keep everyone in line than to make them fear for their lives if they don’t fully, willingly, submit.

No one outside the Inner Party knows what is real and true anymore, and questioning could end them up in the mysterious Room 101 in the Ministry of Love.

Yes, I’ve spoiled that the government and Big Brother are the villains, but what they want, what exactly they do, and just how thoroughly they have infiltrated everyone’s lives will be left up for you to read, should you choose to. And especially given the controversies surrounding the NSA in recent years regarding breaches of privacy, you may find it even more interesting and relevant.

This story is a word to the wise and a whisper to the wondering. It urges we, the common folk, to be vigilant and involved in our government, lest it grow out of hand and turn on the very people it is sworn to serve and protect. Big Brother and the Inner Party earn this spot for the mystery; they took the people’s faith and trust and repaid them in fear and uncertainty.

It is good to love Big Brother. And we’d never want to be ungood.

 

#10: Ursula (from Disney’s The Little Mermaid)

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Ursula. What can I say that would do her complete justice?

She’s a Disney villainess modeled off of an iconic drag queen. She lusts for power over all the oceans…and a decent meal. She’s a cacaelia and a witch who effortlessly hooks our ditzy, pouty protagonist into her schemes, and mostly gives her a fighting chance.

But most of all, she sings this song:

 

How Ariel has no qualms about this, I’ll never know, but this is one of the best villain songs ever. I stand by it.

That song alone tells you all you need to know about Ursula’s character. She’s just awesome. Maleficent is a close second, but despite her powers and presence, she feels a bit one note.

Not that there’s anything wrong with that!

I think Ursula has more personality (silly, fun, and serious), even if Pat Carroll isn’t nearly as boss as Eleanor Audley.

Also, Maleficent’s motivation is pretty funny, when you think about it.

Not that there’s anything wrong with that!

#9: Dolores Umbridge (from Harry Potter and

the Order of the Phoenix)

dolores

Book or movie, take your pick. I’m going more for the movie character because damn did her actress know how to make her so perfectly punchable.

Senior Undersecretary for the Minister of Magic, and for a brief while, Hogwarts’ Professor, Inquisitor, and Headmistress, Umbridge drove students and readers to call for a good, old fashioned witch hunt. She is harsh and unforgiving, yet outwardly sweet enough to rot your teeth. And she has no qualms about hurting students; like a pink-clad nun holding that dreaded ruler.

Nun-with-Ruler-300x300

 

 

The movie made her extra annoying, with pictures of kittens all over her walls, meowing constantly. And the way she smiles widely, knowing she’s hurting or irritating people and clearly doesn’t care…I just love to hate this woman.

The only thing I hate more than Dolores Umbridge is that we didn’t get to see the full extent of her comeuppance.

 

#7: Gaston (from Disney’s Beauty and the Beast)

 

beauty-and-the-beast-gaston-smiling

 

Yep, another Disney. And who do you think gave Frozen the idea of the whole “who’s the real villain” upheaval?

This guy.

No one’s slick as Gaston, no one’s quick as Gaston, and no one turns a superstitious town into a angry mob like Gaston. He does this in seconds, and you know why? Because he wants to marry the prettiest girl in town, and she snubbed him in favor of a brooding beast.

For that, all bets are off.

Gaston, like Maleficent, is not the most complex character, but in some ways, he’s a bit scarier than the Mistress of All Evil. He’s a jock and a misogynist who is so used to getting his way that he won’t tolerate otherwise. He’ll turn dirty and underhanded, even violent, to get his prize, and he’ll manipulate his crowd of followers to do so. Out of fear and love.

Gaston is one of the more relatable Disney villains. We know from the start that he’s a jerk, and by the end, he’s the true villain, but as I’ve said, he’s the town darling. He’s close to being just an average guy, and he uses other people to suit his ends. There are plenty of people in the real world like that, whether we like to admit it or not, and that’s kind of scary.

Could one of them become a Gaston?

I’m inclined to say no because, hey, as no one Gastons like Gaston, but the sad truth of the matter is yes. And they can be even worse than him, too.

Gaston. He’s the evil potential in all of us viewers. Handsome on the outside, jerkish in the middle, and pure monster on the inside.

 

#7: Azula (from Avatar: The Last Airbender)

 

azuzu

 

This is the princess of the Fire Nation. If this is your first time meeting her, rest assured: she will either find a way to use you, or kill you. Or both.

What is it with kids’ and family fare giving us some of the best villains ever?

Azula is Dolores Umbridge fully realized. She is a joy to hate, but also frighteningly awesome; incredibly powerful and intelligent, manipulative, and, in one episode at least, even a bit relatable.

She schemes in circles around her adversaries, and bullies her friends. She watched her own brother be scarred in a duel with their father, and smiled. She lives a life of luxury in the Fire Nation, that seeks to dominate the other nations, and gets pretty much whatever she wants. And Azula mercilessly hunts down the one hope for the salvation of the world, fully intent to kill. She’ll kill her brother and uncle if they embarrass her, or get in her way.

(big spoilers below)

 

This scene is one of her best and most punchable moments.

While Zuko, her brother, is perhaps just as interesting and complex (but more sympathetic), Azula looks cool, sounds cool, and is bitingly cold. Scarier than even the Fire Lord himself.

 

#6: Lord Darcia (from Wolf’s Rain)

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I doubt even some anime fans would know this guy, but trust me, he’s worth checking out.

Darcia is the main antagonist of the series, starting out with motives that are good (albeit selfish) that eventually deteriorate into madness. Without spoiling too much of his or the story’s twists and turns, the world is coming to an end and wolves, which are believed to be the messengers of the gods, are prophesied to open the way to a place called Paradise. Though believed to have been hunted to extinction, wolves have survived by passing themselves off as humans and living scattered among them.

The main character is a deeply faithful and prideful wolf named Kiba, who soon gathers friends in the form of a small, ragtag group of outcast wolves. They seek to rescue and protect Cheza, a maiden artificially created from a Lunar Flower, who is another, more established key to the doors of Paradise.

Back to Darcia, he is what is known as a Noble. He is powerful, old money, and not as human as he appears. He seeks a cure for his lover Hamona’s illness. Known simply as Paradise sickness, it supposedly takes the soul to Paradise but leaves the body behind, resulting in a comatose state.

There is much more to it than that, and the show is fairly complicated. For the best and shortest explanation of things, I would recommend this lovely video:

 

Suffice it to say, Darcia has a lot of complexity and mystery surrounding him, like Big Brother. Who he is, what he is, and all that he plans to accomplish can be found in watching the progression of the show, of course, but also by musing over subtle hints and details wagged just under your nose. Wolf’s Rain is very deep and takes “show, don’t tell” to heart, often revealing very little outright, but making the discoveries regarding the characters and the surrounding world all the more rewarding and interesting.

At least, I think so.

Darcia is generally calm and cool, and can even be sympathetic at times, but he also has moments of creepy and crazy. You do not want to mess with this guy lightly.

 

#5: The Joker (from Batman The Animated

Series)

 

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I’m sorry. As good as Heath Ledger was, I couldn’t put him higher than Mark Hamill.

This Joker is a ball of ham wrapped in an enigma. We’re not sure why he does what he does, but boy does he enjoy it!

And best of all (or worst, depending on how you look at it), he makes it enjoyable for us too.

Batman the Animated Series is a great show that gave kids something a little different than what they were used to. It took influence from Tim Burton; being just as campy, but darker, with truly tragic backstories, memorable and dramatic characters, and stylish and shadowy animation.

As I’ve said, we’re never sure if what the Joker says is true, but it almost doesn’t matter. He is the embodiment of chaos, for fun and for the sake of itself. He bounces around with the temperament of a toddler, but he’s so devious, clever, and malicious, tormenting people in his unique little traps without a care.

And must I mention his sidekick?

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Their relationship is so twisted, it’s evil.

He’s one of Batman’s most dangerous adversaries, and my favorite.

 

#4: Ghirahim (from The Legend of Zelda:Skyward

Sword)

 

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I am sufficiently conflicted about this.

I know what you’re thinking. Shouldn’t Ganondorf be here? He is the main baddie, and  the most iconic of the Zelda series. He’s such a big deal that he literally hijacks games away from other villains.

Let me say that Ganondorf is awesome. He has consistently great character designs, and has given players some great, memorable battles over the course of the games. But to be honest, his personality is not all that memorable. He wants to rule Hyrule (Wind Waker probably gives him the most sympathetic reason why), and that’s about it. Sometimes his minions have more stage presence than he does.

So why not the main villain of the game, Demise, then?

Because he doesn’t get enough screen time or presence to stand out besides the cool, menacing design. As you’ve probably guessed by now, cool look alone doesn’t make a good villain. He, she, or it has to have a stronger whole than that.

Demise’s principle minion, Ghirahim, on the other hand, has a distinct personality. He very nearly smacks you in the face with it.

Ghirahim is sporadic and flamboyant, which makes him seem both very creepy and very hammy at the same time. He loves to monologue like the classics, but his ability to teleport allows him to sneak up on you and spook you easily while he does it.

He’s got a calm, calculating side that barely manages to rein in his murderous side. One minute, he’s strolling around the room and taunting you quietly. The next, he’s doing something like this:

Ghirahim_tongue_trick_lolz

 

I don’t even know what this is.

When it’s finally revealed who he is, it all makes sense. But until then, you’re left to wonder at this strange person popping in occasionally to hijack dungeon boss battles and taunt you. All you know is that he wants to revive his master, which means bad news for you and the rest of the world.

His early fights are fairly easy, but then again, he underestimates you.

He dances, prances, whispers, and shrieks. He even kind of flirts with you. He’s Ghirahim!

*
*

 

The news that he made this list “has just filled (his) heart with rainbows!”

No, really. That’s a quote.

Oh, Japan. You and your homophobic game villains…

 

#3: GLaDOS (from Portal and Portal 2)

 

Glados

Imagine Hal from 2001: A Space Odyssey, but make it a woman.

AHHHHHHHHHH!

Okay, it’s not that simple. GLaDOS is a lot more human than Hal (for good, but spoilery reasons), starting out as quietly deceptive and dry but slowly becoming more childish and, as you might have guessed, murderous. Even when she claims to be losing the restraints that kept her ethical and “human,” she still has a strong presence and personality you wouldn’t think a machine would be capable of.

She controls the Aperture Science Computerated Enrichment Center, an AI computer that stands for “Genetic Lifeform and Disk Operating System.” I’d say putting her on this list is a spoiler in and of itself, but anyone who is in anyway familiar with the meme “The Cake is a Lie,” or even casually starts playing the first game (with two functioning brain cells to rub together) could deduce that she’s up to something.

Both games’ greatest comedic moments come from her, whether she’s being sarcastic, childish, matter-of-fact, or any combination of the three. If you can’t play for whatever reason, I suggest watching a let’s play of the games. The first game takes about an hour if you know what you’re doing. And GLaDOS’s dialogue is worth it.

She’s my in my top 3 for a reason 🙂

 

#2: Eric Cartmen (from South Park)

 

cartman

 

This “kid” is a piece of work. The ultimate bratty, despised character.

Sometimes I love to hate him, and other times I just love to watch him. Eric Cartmen is fascinating in many ways, but primarily for being a character that can represent the worst in both children and adults.

Like Gaston, but cartoonier. And worse. 

He’s manipulative, bigoted, selfish, murderous; he is whatever the plot demands, or whatever he needs to be if the plot threatens him in any way. Often, he will act like he’s working for the greater good, when really it’s for his own reasons, and if good comes from his actions, it’s usually an accident or incidental to his whims.

I think Kyle sums his character up best here (excuse the crappiness of the clip, but it was the only one I could find):

In case the video doesn’t play, here’s the quote:

“I believe that you believe you helped write that joke. That’s how people like you work. Your ego is so out-of-whack that it will do whatever it can to protect itself. People with a messed-up ego can do these mental gymnastics to convince themselves that they’re awesome, when really they’re just douchebags.”

~ Kyle, Season 13, “Fishsticks”

He lives under the delusion that the other kids think he’s cool, when really, only Butters does. He is constantly critical and bigoted towards Kyle and his family for being Jewish, Kenny for being poor, and many others, mostly in denial of his own insecurities of being fat and not cool. He prays on his lonely mom’s desire for companionship and acceptance, manipulating her and other parents and authority figures when it suits him.

Cartmen is the worst. Even when he ends up doing something good, he’s either not happy about it, or spins it to work in his favor. If he comes out on top, you just want to smack him off his high horse with a spiky mallet, then set him on fire tied to Joffery Baratheon.

The funniest and most reprehensible of cartoon figures.

 

 

So who’s going to beat him? Well…

 

#1: Lady Eboshi (from Princess Mononoke)

 

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Some people are probably thinking “who now?” Others might be wondering why she’s so high up on this list.

Let me explain…

The main character of the movie, Prince Ashitaka, leaves his people and travels to a far away land in search of a cure for the curse that is slowly killing him. The curse was given to him when he battled a cursed, enraged boar god that attempted to attack his village. His only clue to the curse and what angered the deity is an iron ball that he found in the boar’s body. The metal festered inside of him, driving him mad with “a poisonous hatred.”

Ashitaka eventually finds the land that the boar god came from. It is a land at war, with the local humans attempting to destroy the forest for their own gain and safety, and the animal gods fighting to drive the humans out and protect their domain.

It sounds like your typical hippy “save the forest” kind of movie, but it isn’t. It really, really isn’t.

Lady Eboshi is the mistress of Iron Town. She wants to uproot the forest for more iron and riches, but she also protects the people who work for her. She saved prostitutes from local brothels and gave them jobs working the bellows at the ironworks in her town. She took in lepers, “washed (their) rotting flesh,” and put them to work making rifles and other weapons. Neither the lepers nor the woman have easy lives, but they are very happy and indebted to Eboshi, following her plans and dreams faithfully.

In addition to the forest gods, Eboshi also has to deal with other humans as well; lords and samurai who are jealous of her success and aim to take it for themselves. She is also employed by the emperor’s men to help track down the forest spirit, the deer god who can grant life and death, and cut off its head. The head of such a powerful spirit may be the key to healing illnesses and unlocking eternal life, but Eboshi is more concerned with the safety of her own people, and aims to put an end to the war between man and nature once and for all.

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This is a sympathetic villain done right, although Miyazaki clearly strives to make the opposing sides equal threats to one another, and equally misguided. There is no designated good or evil, but beings simply working toward their own ends, and Lady Eboshi is a strong character among a cast of strong characters. She is charismatic and likable; taking care of the needy, powerless, and lowest members of society. She is smart, smooth, calculating, and caring, with moments of crazed obsession scattered here and there.

The other characters like to joke that she’s out to rule the world.

Eboshi is on the top of my list because she was the first genuinely likable, sympathetic villain I ever came across, and her characterization is done masterfully well. Sure, she’s not hammy, creepy, or the most fun to watch out of everyone on this list, but she comes the closest to seeming like a real person you would meet (without being a total psycho like Gaston or Cartmen). A person who may be likable, doing what she thinks is right, and someone normal people would be inclined to follow.

Eboshi: A leader and general decent human being, though misguided.

*As per usual, most of the pics don’t belong to me. The title card does, though. Twas done by the gracious and talented Zero, who can be found here. Check her out! 🙂

Top 10 Favorite Zelda Sidequests

 

I am not a completionist. At all.

When I play, unless it’s something I’ve done before, I’m mostly interested in character and plot. I see video games like movies, but better, because you can be an active participant.

As long as I can move, and the camera isn’t conspiring to assassinate me, I’m a happy camper.

When I game, I am the type of person who often rushes into a battle unprepared (not sufficiently leveled up or stocked up) because I just want to advance the main story. I level up when forced to, or happily during a second playthrough, but usually, whether I’m going in as the tank or the strategist, I’m praying I can just move on. Sidequests can be the bane of my existence; sometimes feeling more like chores than anything else.

That said, Zelda games are my big exception.

I still don’t typically strive to get everything you could possibly get in the game, but there are a ton of different quests you can choose to do, and a lot of them are really fun. I complete them as soon as I can, or later, when I’m trying to stall the inevitable ending of the game.

For the purpose of this list, I am classifying a side/subquest as: any quest that either a) has no or little effect on the end’s result, and/or b) does not need to be done to finish the game. More items will probably lean to the latter, but there you have it.

Let’s begin!

 

10) Poe Soul Hunting

This spot was a toss up between bug hunting and poe hunting from The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess, but the poes win because:

poe

Come on.

Sure, Agitha is a disturbing but intriguing character, and the bugs get to go to a tea party at her place once you collect them all. And yeah, catching bugs is extra fun in Skyward Sword, once you figure out the net. And you can use them to spice up potions, strengthening status effects. This is fun and useful stuff here.

But screw that! Ghost hunting!

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And the ghosts look like this:

imppoe

And this:

Poe_(Twilight_Princess)

Hell, I thought they were fun to hunt back when they looked like this:

468px-I8y97gt98BigPoe

Along the course of the plot, you will meet a man named Jovani. He has quite the sparkling personality.

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His story is that he got greedy and sold his soul to the poes for abundant wealth. They granted his wish, but also turned him into a living jewel, so he can’t even spend his money, or swim around in it Scrooge McDuck style!

So he’s turned over a new leaf, and he needs you to murder 60 poes before he can be returned to normal.

This quest is a spiritual sister to both the poe and skulltula quests from Ocarina of Time. The difference here is that the hunt employs Link’s other form, rather than a bow or other standard weapons. You can only see poes using wolf senses, and once you’ve spotted one (usually at night, indicated with a floating ball of light and creaking sounds), you jump and bite it repeatedly until it falls to the ground, then dig the soul right out of its chest.

You get the picture by about 0:06, but still. Hardcore, and pretty damn brutal. It’s not the darkest thing that Nintendo has ever given us in these E rated games, either.

But it’s a fun collection quest with some freaky adversaries.

Who you gonna call?…Yourself!

 

9) Gerudo Training Ground

After you obtain the Gerudo’s membership card (which is hilarious) from the desert tribe of Amazonian/Spartan women, you have access to several things. The Haunted Wasteland (needed for plot), the horseback archery game, and the Gerudo Training Ground.

gerudo 2

Inside await various puzzles (many of which are timed), to test your stamina, ingenuity, and whether or not you’ve got all the right items. Or, in some cases, whether you’ve brought enough of the right items. Like bombs and arrows.

You’ll need those.

gerudo 1

Water puzzles, fire puzzles, monster puzzles, and more. All for the relatively useless, but nice and item-collection-completing Ice Arrows.

gerudo 3

And when I say useless, I mean that there aren’t many or any boss battles left where you could use them by this point.

There really isn’t too much to say about this one. It’s pretty low on this list, but still a fun mini-dungeon with elements from most of the other dungeons you’ve faced, combined in an atmospherically-acclectic moosh. Just beware misusing your keys, because you only win so many.

 

8) Magic Armor 

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Yeah, the sailing in The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker did get a bit tedious after a while, but thankfully, the HD remake keeps the ability to teleport while upgrading you (via the auction) to the swift sail, making traversing the Great Sea more fun and fluid. Now, if only they gave you the option to bypass the fish man’s dialogue every time you want to fill in your chart…

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He’s a contender with this owl, Navi, and Fi as most annoying, “helpful” character.

He's a contender with this guy, Navi, and Fi as most annoying, "helpful" character.

But in defense of the sailing, the game is very big on color and atmosphere; the weather and lighting changing frequently, as well as a multitude of interesting islands to explore. So suck it up, whiners!

This is a big fetch quest and you will probably need a guide to avoid backtracking and unnecessary purchases. There are several people scattered across several islands on far sides of the map, and they will give you things in exchange for other things. And money. You will need lots of money.

Zunari

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The nice thing about these various trading items (flowers, flags, statues, etc) is that later, you can buy them on Windfall Island and use them to decorate the place or your own personal cabana, if that’s your thing. It’s not really mine that much, but few other fetch quests can say that they allow you to use and reuse items you traded away for your own purposes.

So, while I haven’t been upselling it very much and it can be frustrating occasionally, this quest is mostly fun, and in the end, you get a nice shielding device that makes you invulnerable for as long as your magic meter holds out.

Nifty!

 

7) Fetch Quests/Gratitude Crystals

Sword_0835

Gratitude crystals can either be found lying around Skyloft in hard to reach places, or by doing favors and quests for characters along the course of your adventure. I like the latter more, particularly those that involve going down to the surface and dowsing to locate lost items, like the fortune teller’s (replacement) crystal ball and the Fun Fun Island clown’s party wheel. Dowsing in general was pretty fun for me throughout this game.

Anyway, you collect crystals to get things like pieces of heart and wallet expansions. You get those by giving the crystals to a demon who longs to become human.

I’m not kidding, either. He looks like this:

05a

Friendly-looking, right?

Despite the mildly sketchy way that Batreaux is introduced (you go looking for a lost child only to find her having “screaming contests” with this guy in a hidden bungalow beneath the graveyard), he gives good rewards in exchange for the crystals, and you can have oodles of fun tracking stuff down. Sometimes, the solution to someone’s problem is interesting and complicated, while other times it just the standard point a to point b delivery.

It’s more fun finding things in a game when you know where the item should be and can scope for it. In real life, your car keys go missing, and you’re in trouble. All you can do is retrace steps and blindly fumble and hope. 😦

But on the other hand, video games make people look really morally horrible. They will only help you if you help them first…

Moving on!

 

6) Circus Leader’s Mask

CircusLeadersMask

This mask is ugly as sin and virtually useless, but the jam session you go through to get it is fun. Fun, and short, but it takes a lot of elements and items to even get to this subquest, so it does feel like an accomplishment.

 

5) Skulltula Houses

The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask will take up a lot of this list. It’s the game with the most sidequests and, in my opinion, some of the most fun ones. Especially because of the useful items you typically receive for your troubles.

Swamp_Spider_House

Oceanside_Spider_House

There are two spider houses: one in Woodfall, and the other at Great Bay. I like both pretty evenly, but if I had to pick my favorite, it’d be the Oceanside Spider House. It’s dark and haunted-looking, with Stalchildren hanging around to add to the ambience.

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Ocean_05

Creepy, grinning, giant masks; minimalist, isolating music; a hunt through several dark and dusty puzzle rooms; and a giant wallet as a reward, with a new mask waiting around the corner. Also, you’re genociding these pleasant things:

goldskultulla

 

Enjoy!

 

4) The Romani Mask

RomaniMask

The first step in this quest involves aliens.

No joke.

Romani Aliens

It is one of the most bizarre things in all of Zelda. But that is what makes it so fun and interesting.

On the first day, you go to Milk Road and blow up the bolder blocking Romani Ranch. Inside, you will find several people (and activities), but the most important are Romani and her older sister, Cremia.

normal_Romani-Cremia

Romani will be outside, running around with her dog and shooting at a balloon with her bow. You talk to her and get your horse after a brief mini game, with the promise to help her ward off an alien invasion early the next morning. Cremia doesn’t believe that such a thing will happen, but she is delighted to hear that the road is open to travel. Now she can deliver her alcoholic milk to town!

…I’m not really kidding about that, either. It’s tied into a really dark scene later, and the game makes no bones about it being hard stuff.

So you fight off these…alien…ghost…looking things:

Majoras-Mask-Them-Aliens

for a couple of hours, keeping them away from the barn with arrows, until they all go away. When you talk to Cremia, she will offer to give you a ride back into town on the second night, which you should accept.

The two of you chat (as much as Placeholder Link is capable to), and a series of road blocks lead you into “ugly country.” Some local farmers in masks come riding up to your wagon like bandits and try to destroy the milk bottles. It is your job to fight them off with arrows to the face.

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newzzz

Once you’re done: congratulations! You get a cow mask/hood/thingy! It gets you into the 21 and over milk bar in town after dark!

Paaaaaaarty!
Paaaaaaarty!

 

See what I mean? Bizzzzzzzzaaaaaaarrrrrrrreeeeeeee.

What’s even more bizarre (and dark and twisted) is what happens when you fail to protect the ranch from aliens…

 

3) The Couple’s Mask

CouplesMask

Outside of making one guy happy and giving you a heart piece, this mask does nothing. Even less than the Circus Leader’s Mask, which can at least cry rivers. But the quest to get it is the longest in the game, and the resolution for the people involved is both sad and heartwarming. It’s very satisfying that way, somehow; one of the most in-depth and satisfying quests ever in the series, I would argue.

The Skull Kid (the main antagonist of the game) cursed a man named Kafei and gave him the body of a child, but still the mind of an adult, three days before he is supposed to marry his love, Anju. The customs of Termina (the land you are in, as opposed to the usual, Hyrule) dictate that two people commemorating their joining as husband and wife, as a symbolic gesture and simultaneous praise of the guardian giants, must each make a mask and exchange them with one another on the day of the ceremony. To add insult to injury, before Kafei could inform Anju of his misfortune, his wedding mask was stolen by a thief named Sakon, a “prancing man with a grinning face.”

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Now Kafei, ashamed and desperate to find his mask before he confronts Anju, hides behind another mask that looks suspiciously like Pikachu (but is really more of a general Japanese fox mask) and lives on the far side of town. Anju, unaware of these events and having lost almost all contact with her fiancé, is distraught, and hesitant to evacuate town along with her family (due to the rumor of the falling moon).

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Not even Kafei’s mother knows where he’s gone, and it’s up to detective Link to sort this mess out!

In-the-Kitchen

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Haha!
Haha!

You get a lot of masks from this quest; the most out of all of the quests you could choose to undertake. It’s definitely not one of the flashier and funner masks, but in the end, the couple’s mask is a nice trophy to remind you how hard you worked to make all of these characters happy.

…Before you reset the time to the first day, and everything goes back to the way it was. Doomed.

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2) Nintendo Gallery

Picto-Box

I love Pokemon Snap. Always have, always will. And my Facebook is crammed with pictures. Not club pics and selfies (some of the latter, to be fair), but a lot of landscapes and nature shots. And deer.

I love taking photos. I love getting the perfect shot and focusing on every little minute detail to do so. The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker foresaw this, and acted accordingly.

So you take pictures (once you upgrade to a color camera) and then take them to a small pillar of land near The Forest Haven. Here you will find the Nintendo Gallery, where you can turn in good photos for shiny figurines, lovingly sculpted by this fellow:

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You track down every person, monster, and animal (almost) that you can find, no doubt freaking them out with numerous, obsessive pictures, and you fill the rooms in this place with colorful figurines. Not only will they look pretty, but they also have little blurbs about the characters they represent.

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This quest is utterly useless in the grand scheme of things, even by other useless quest standards, but it feels great to the completionist, and even to those who just want to say, “I stopped to take a picture of this boss during the middle of the battle! I have horrendous battle scars now, but look! A trophy!” 🙂

Hooray for catering to youth culture who are increasingly self and phone/camera obsessed!

The HD remake is worse in this regard because (while you get the colored camera much more easily, have more open slots for photos, and can use other players’ photos to complete your quest) you have the ability to take selfies. Literally, selfies. And you can stick them in bottles and send them to other people, receiving their selfies as well.

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Kill me.

 

1) Item Upgrading

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Hands down. This is. The greatest thing. Zelda has given me. Ever.

The fact that Skyward Sword shields can now take varying degrees of damage (rather than, say, the Deku shield just being obliterated by lava or fire) is an interesting, if occasionally irritating dynamic Nintendo recently added. But I barely used mine outside of certain battles anyway. Ironically, this game made shields feel more like decorations than anything else. Some people would argue you don’t need them to get through, although with hero mode I would definitely say, “pick one up for insurance.”

But the chance to upgrade my bow for better sniping capabilities?

Bows

Awesome!

The beetle can fly farther and faster now?

Beetles

Awesome!

You can use items you get from monster murder/drops, bugs, and just random things that you find around the overworld. That idea is so simple, but so brilliant, it moves me to tears.

…Well, not really. But still.

Scavenging and hunting has the most appeal in this game, I think, because you can put what you find to many uses that are nice and can help you out, but won’t stall out the plot waiting for you. And it’s not just for completionists! How about those folks concerned with always having the latest models?

No one else in Skyloft will have these cool toys!

Seriously, though. Why hasn’t Link ever thought to add on to his weapons before? Polish and spit-shine them, add a few tweaks! The closest he came before this was probably Twilight Princess, with the Eagle Eye and the ability to make bomb arrows.

Psst…Nintendo! Bring those back!

 

So there you have it. My top 10 favorite sub and side quests from the Zelda series. Which ones are your favorites? Are there any ones I so unfairly missed? Let me know!

*The fan art is by Zelbunni, and that and their other work can be found at the link under the image. As always, I don’t own any of these images or videos. All hail/credit to Nintendo, Ghostbusters, and the creative minds of the web for their collages.

 

Top 5 Worst Romantic Comedy Cliches

Don’t get me wrong; I love romantic comedy as much as the next girl. It’s like entering a sugary alternate reality where hot movie stars try to be clumsy, cute, and relatable human beings; even a “loser” can get the girl/guy; the bad guy gets his comeuppance, or at least spends the rest of his life miserable and alone; and happily ever after always wraps up nicely for two souls who were bound to be together.

It’s an alternate reality where everything is how it should be.

Romcoms are a fantasy. Not the type that invokes images of grand adventure, dragons, and wizards, but in its own right, it involves just as much suspension of disbelief. It’s a type that deals with idealism and simplicity. It’s definitely got a charm to it, but sometimes people take issue, whether it’s because it’s not a fantasy they personally subscribe to, or because all fantasies give unrealistic expectations for the complicated world we actually live in.

Sometimes we need a break from the unshakeable truth: “Life isn’t fair.”

So while I’d be a snob and a hypocrite to act like I’m above all the cotton-candy clouds and sparkly fairy dust, I maintain that romcoms are, consistently, the least challenging, most pandering genre, next to robot/monster beat-em-ups. It is emotional “porn”  for women (though some men enjoy it as well), and there are a couple of common tropes and trends constantly being used and abused that I take particular umbrage with.

1# Lack of Humility/Subtlety in the Writing

 

A lot of films (besides just romcoms) have a tendency of “breaking the fourth wall.” For those of you who have never heard this expression before, look at your T.V. or computer and image the show you are watching exists in its own separate reality, not connected to yours. “Breaking the fourth wall” is, in essence, transcending beyond the screen, the wall that separates you from them. It’s when the characters implicitly or explicitly refer to the audience. One common example is talking or “winking” to them.

If you still don’t quite get what I mean, think of the side glances into the camera you see on Looney Tunes, or comments like “gruesome, isn’t it?”. Look at Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, where the titular character isn’t narrating so much as thinking out loud in the moment, all the while smiling and looking right at you, like he knows you’re there. Games do it too. Without spoiling too much, the cult classic Conker’s Bad Fur Day‘s ending pretty much obliterates any semblance of fourth wall left standing at that point.

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This is often, if not almost exclusively used for comedy.

Sometimes, writers use a subset of this to poke fun at themselves via the trope Who Would Want To Watch Us? Other times, they like to verge on fourth wall breaking with something called Lampshade Hanging, or “spotlighting.” That is when you take a problem or an unbelievable element within your own work and drag it into the spotlight within said work, so that everyone can see it. It can’t be ignored because the creator is addressing it. They knew it was there, even before you did.

Some writers do it because they think it’s really funny, or self-mocking. Others treat it like critic repellent.

I don’t mind Lampshade Hanging here and there. I love self-referential and self-debasing humor. But it irritates me when films sneer down their nose at common cliches and tropes, only to then use them later down the line in the same work. As if somehow that makes the overdone original again. I find it pretentious, cheap, and lazy.

Here is one example:

In the movie Pitch Perfect, Jesse, the love interest, (who is downright adorkable, by the way) tries to get Beca, the snarky sound-mixer protagonist, interested in movies. She totally gets the appeal of music, but movies just bore her. Jesse insists that the endings are the best part, but Beca gives a little speech about how they are so formulaic and predictable. Why would you want to watch something when you know how it will end?

Guess what happens:

Jesse and Beca hook up in the end. The guy gets the girl. That is as predictable as the sun rising in the morning. But wasn’t that snarky little speech just so enriching and innovative?

Allow me to quote a new favorite critic of mine, TheMysteriousMrEnter, from several of his reviews:

“Pointing out your problems does not make them go away.”

This can also work out badly in the inverse. If the writers are actually doing something unique or interesting, but feel the need to bash us over the head with it as much as possible. That’s obnoxious too.

For that example, look at Disney’s self parody, Enchanted. It turns out Princess Giselle has to save her damsel-in-distress boyfriend from a giant dragon. Instead of just letting the scene play out on its own, the evil queen/dragon has to make dry remarks every few minutes about how interesting and flipped the situation is.

I THINK WE GET IT.

As with many things in life, balance is key. Also, don’t pee on your audience and tell them it’s raining.

2# I Hate You, I Love You

 

Chicks love seeing relationships where there are none. Whether characters are just friends, bitter rivals, or hated enemies, odds are that you will find a fandom for every possible couple. I think romcom writers recognize this, because they seem to get a lot of mileage the “will-they-or-won’t-they” trope, particularly when it involves open hostility.

The Ugly Truth. The Proposal. Leap Year. And those are just some of the more recent ones, to name a few. The couple starts out with one or both parties hating the other, only to find out in the end that – surprise! – they actually love each other.

In some cases, the parties may even go back and forth.

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I’m aware that there is a thin line between love and hate, and both require a level of passion and devotion, but used as often as it is, this trend quickly becomes annoying. Either put a new spin on it, or let it sleep for a while.

Also, can we do something about the awkward love triangle? You know, where the woman has a hot nice guy and a rude, obnoxious but also hot other guy, and she never fails to go for the jerk? Blah blah blah bad boys are cute. Blah blah blah nice guys finish last. How do we know life isn’t mimicking “art,” and not the other way around?

3# Obligatory Third-Act Misunderstanding

 

This is an epidemic. Not just in romcoms, but in movies as a whole. It needs to be destroyed, preferably with fire and salt.

Some stupid, contrived thing must break up the characters, all because the writers can’t figure out how to write a full story without cramming one in for pointless drama. It seriously just drags out the inevitable for another 20 or so minutes.

Yes, people can be dishonest and keep secrets. Yes, sometimes there is a liar, and he/she gets the mask pulled off at the wrong time. Stuff like this can happen in real life. But often this trope is, as I’ve mentioned, stupid and contrived.

Maybe the guy waffles around, debating when is the best time to tell his girlfriend that he was dating her only because of a bet. Or maybe he vehemently denies his growing feelings, only to have her accidentally overhear.

*COUGH COUGH*
*COUGH COUGH*

 

Or maybe he just can’t admit his feelings to her face because he’s stubborn (a man, basically) or awkward, and she’s had enough waiting.

Maybe Hugh Grant is Hugh Grant-ing it up, and the woman identifies him as an a-hole.

Take your pick, or fill in more blanks with your personal favorites. You know what I’m talking about.

And this isn’t just about nitpicking, or not acknowledging that sometimes avoidable, asinine things can happen in real life. Because they do. This is wondering why no one ever calls the police or arms themselves in a horror movie. This is wondering why they always run upstairs when a maniac is chasing them. The reasons for this trope are so idiotic; things that could easily be solved by something in the real world that we call “open communication.” Or having two working brain cells to rub together.

But then again, an open, healthy relationship is boring. And normal.

How about we put these misunderstandings in the first act and then get past them? How about that? That isn’t too overdone…yet…

4# The Woman is Always Right

 

Most romcoms, usually as a result of the totally necessary use of #3 above, end with someone (most often the woman) storming off. It is almost always up to the man to figure out what went wrong and fix it.

a la tvtropes.com
a la tvtropes.com

 

Okay, I’m a woman. I get other women. We’re emotional beings that don’t always recognize logic. I admit this. But we’re not stupid and crazy and hormonal all the time.

Half the time when I see this contrived bs, I am yelling at the woman to use her Cosmo-clouded brain.

“Confront the man, and I don’t mean like a closed-off idiot!” “Be honest and tell him what in holy hell is bothering you!” “THINK!”

Sure, the men do stupid things too. They can make mistakes and not recognize them. But romcoms like to make this a big thing that happens all the time. No one likes being wrong, and certainly not the women inserting themselves in the protagonist’s place.

This is not a romcom so much as a family comedy, but look at the Lindsay Lohan movie Parent Trap. Elizabeth (the mother) up and left Nick (the father), effectively splitting up their twins for life and content to never inform them of each other’s existence, and then she got upset that he didn’t come after her. He, on the other hand, figured that was what she wanted.

(note: I loved that movie as a kid, but I find the parents stupid, impossible to relate to, and damn near despicable)

As another example, look at Bride Wars. Emma’s boyfriend Fletcher calls her out for being crazy and catty (and stupid), and Emma and the movie frame him as the a-hole who just doesn’t understand. Sure, he isn’t gentle with his words, but he told her what none of her other girlfriends would, and he had every right to question why the woman he was marrying seemingly changed overnight into a childish, vindictive, passive-aggressive jerk. In the end, the two girls (Emma and Liv) who fought stupidly the whole movie over the “ideal wedding” become bestest friends again like nothing ever happened, and Fletcher is told off and leaves the movie entirely. Even though he was technically right, he’s wrong.

Women win, even when the conclusion makes no sense or is terribly skewed. As much as I dislike Leap Year, at least the confusion is on Anna, and she goes after Declan and proposes to him. Even Pitch Perfect tried it, with Beca driving Jesse away, only to win him back.

Contrivance and cliché can have some flavor with a little mixing up every now and then.

5# Woman as Lonely Cat Lady/Loser.

 

She’s insecure. Don’t know what fer. She turnin heads when she fix herself up mo-o-ore.

…Sorry. Just thought I could sum this one up while simultaneously mocking One Direction.

The woman in the movie is supposed to be you. Yes, you, lonely girls and aging women. She’s just like you, but hotter. She just doesn’t know it/own it yet. Again, they can insert themselves into the place of the lead woman and get a sense of catharsis from it.

Maybe she’s clumsy and awkward. Maybe she doesn’t know how to pick clothes or styles that flatter her, and just stumbles around in a baggy t-shirt and loose jeans. Maybe she has – gasp! – glasses!

Regardless of how it happened, it must be fixed. Usually with the introduction of a love interest. I guess that when I get right down to it, that’s the gist of what bothers me.

It is at its most egregious state in The Ugly Truth. But I can’t even talk about it, because it is seriously one of my most hated movies ever. Right up there with Identity Thief. That disgusting piece of trash thoroughly insults both genders, and the pig-headed man is always portrayed as being “in the right.”

My favorite romcom of all time,  My Big Fat Greek Wedding, is also guilty of this one, but I don’t mind it so much there. I thought it was used effectively. Sure, Toula sees a man and feels bad about herself, but I don’t think that is really the impetus for her fixing herself up and going to college. She didn’t need a man so much as a fulfilling purpose in life, and the backbone to put her foot down sometimes with her wacky family. The man came later, when she was much happier and more confident with herself.


The problem with mirroring real life so closely is that, at times, it tends to highlight our grievances with the real world, rather than let us temporarily forget them. Why aren’t all men dashing princes, ready to sweep you away to their castles astride gallant white stallions? Why don’t nice women with wonderful personalities and quirks always find Mr. Right at the opportune time, or sometimes ever? (ask the same question for the fellas)

I wouldn’t mind a little less simplicity, a little more variety, or at least changing things up more often. The world is complex, full of plenty of unique, possible scenarios, but here the writers are, sticking to what is familiar. Comfortable. Routine.

And so are we.

Even fantasies have become standard and predictable, when they were meant to excite and stir the imagination. So what does that tell us?

Disclaimer: Photos and gifs belong to their various owners, not me. Keep in mind that this is my list, and I’m not insulting you if you like any of the movies/things I referred to negatively. I’m also not saying that said films don’t have an original bone in their body.